So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
Dear Friends in Christ,
Saturday evening supper on the farm
There are at least two kinds of households- those with set routines and those where routines are the exception rather than the rule. I grew up in a family where three meals a day were common and each of the seven days included certain rituals. Sunday was go to church, go to Sunday School and Bible class, buy a Fargo Forum newspaper, get together with aunts and uncles and cousins for roast beef dinner or chicken dinner day. Monday was wash the clothes day, Tuesday was iron the clothes day, Wednesday was Ladies Aid day once a month, I don’t remember so much about Thursdays, Friday was go to town and get groceries day, and Saturday’s agenda was firm. Vacuuming and dusting in the morning, mowing lawns in the afternoon, pitching manure in the spring time, and all year round, Saturdays were for the baking of cookies and all kinds of bread. Not bread that would be broken, but bread that would melt away in your mouth at the Saturday evening meal. A meal where everyone had their assigned places, a meal that would include all four of the food groups, a meal where plates would be cleaned, a meal where there would be no singing, and a meal that would end as all supper meals would end –with Mom reading a devotion out of Little Visits with God. Growing up, I had no idea what the Spirit of God was doing on the inside of me. Looking back, I realize that this time of breaking bread and listening to Bible stories and praying the Our Father together as a family has been burned into my heart never to be extinguished. Three parts to our sermon today, as we examine our own family meal rituals, as we take a look at that first Easter Sunday supper meal in a little town of Emmaus, and the theme, “Bread Broken.”
Jesus started out the day as the student, but ended as the (teacher). Two Sundays ago, we listened in as Jesus sauntered up alongside of two disciples journeying, asked them what sorts of things they were talking about, and played the part of a student. Last Sunday, we listened in as our Risen Savior perfectly and carefully opened up prophecy and fulfillment to them. Today we make the case that table fellowship was an integral part of Jesus’ ministry. Professor Art Just from the Ft. Wayne Seminary writes, “Jesus frequently used the occasion of a meal to create fellowship with people. Jesus’ table fellowship may be defined as the gracious presence of Jesus at table, where he teaches about the kingdom of God and shares a meal in an atmosphere of acceptance, friendship, and peace. His usual table fellowship practice combined those three ingredients: his presence, his teaching, and his eating.”
To go back into the history of Israel is to see that it was often at the table where bread would be broken and God communicated salvation to His people. Already in the Garden of Eden, God provided fruit trees, but Adam and Eve violated the boundaries of fellship set by God by eating the forbidden fruit. In our Old Testament lesson for today, God appears to Abraham via three men, one of whom turns out to be the Lord. Abraham and Sarah show hospitality to their guests by preparing a meal, and in the context of that setting God promises a Son who would eventually crush the serpent’s head.
The covenants the Lord God Almighty made with his people often were celebrated with bread that would be broken. The Passover meal was the context in which the head of the household would teach his children the fundamental doctrines of God. On Mt. Sinai, after the Exodus, Moses and Aaron and Nadab and Abihu and seventy elsers “saw God and ate and drank.” Throughout their wilderness wanderings, God would provide the meals, including manna and quail. Even when the people of God were in exile, they would celebrate the Passover every week at their Sabbath evening Seder meal.
It is within this context of weekly Jewish Sabbath meals and synagogue worship that Luke records the table fellowship of Jesus. We find Jesus present and breaking bread and teaching at the feast with Levi the tax collector, at the meal where Jesus forgives a sinful woman who anointed his feet, at the feeding of the 5000, at meals with sinners, at the meal in the story of the prodigal Son, at the meal where Jesus lodges with Zacchaus, at the Last Supper, and post resurrection at the Emmaus Supper and later that very night when Jesus appeared in the upper room, startled them with his presence, comforted them with his peace, asked them why they were troubled, showed them his hands and feet, invited them to touch and see, and while they were still disbelieving and marveling, Jesus asked, “Hey, have you anything to eat?” They gave him a piece of fish, he at it in their presence, and proceeded to start teaching again! Lesson #1 today is to be impressed by how great is the desire of our the Holy Spirit to teach eternal and life-saving truths in the context of His people breaking bread together.
Second truth we want to receive today: Jesus began the meal as a guest, but finished as the (host). When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. It’s easy at this point to think of what we call the Common Table Prayer, which begins, Come Lord Jesus, be our guest….let these gifts to us be blessed. Wikopedia suggests that this is the best known mealtime prayer among North American Lutherans, that it was first published in 1753 in a Moravian hymnal, that the author is unknown, that a second verse was spoken by the Germans, “Blessed be God who is our bread; may all the world be clothed and fed.”
On the one hand we pray that God would give us our daily bread, and on the other hand, we believe Him to be the very bread of life. On the one hand, we ask Christ to be the unseen guest at every one of our meals, and on the other hand, we honor Him as the provider of all good gifts for body and soul. On the one hand, we ask Jesus to be the silent listener to every one of our conversations, and on the other hand, we recognize Him as the Teacher of our hearts and the lover of our souls. As often as we step forward to Supper of all suppers, we do so as invited guests. As guests with broken hearts, messed up lives, and failed records, we receive the very body of Christ which has been broken for us. The very blood of Christ which has been poured out on our behalf. Christ is the host, we the guests. He is the Giver, we are the recipients. He is the Forgiver, we are the forgiven. He is the lover, we are the beloved. He serves, and we are served. Lesson #2 today is eat and drink at our Lord’s Supper together, to do so often, to do so with broken and contrite hearts, and to know that every time we do so the Holy Spirit will be fanning into flame the fire in our hearts, the fire that was started so long ago in the waters of Baptism and at our mother’s knees.
As often as Christ reveals Himself, that often faith (grows) 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
I would like to think that Jesus was really looking forward to this moment. The when Jesus had taken the bread in his hands and looked up and blessed the bread, and then just as he handed it to them, they realized who Jesus was and poof! He was gone! Now you see him, now you don’t. I’d like to think that there was a smile on Jesus’ lips and a twinkle in His eye and a joy in His heart as He vanished and then listened in, “whoa, where did He go? That was Jesus. That was Jesus with us all the while! That was Jesus listening to us and talking to us and messing with us! Hey was there something going on in your heart earlier on today? Me too!”
As long as I can remember, Holy Communion has been something special in my heart. Like many of you, I can remember getting instructed in the faith, getting ready to be confirmed, memorizing all those Scriptures and hymns and Psalms, answering all those questions, learning what a privilege it would be to be a guest at the Table. For us at Peace Lutheran in little Barney, ND. Communion was the second Sunday of every month. My cousin Merlyn and I were ushers, we took turns being the gate, letting 6 or 7 people up for the Supper and then back into place. In recent months, more often than not, it’s Pastor Muther who holds the bread in front of my eyes, He looks me in the eyes, and assures me in his Pastor Muther kind of a way that the body of Christ has been broken for me, that my sins are forgiven, that I may go in peace. Lesson #3 today is to never forget and to look forward to with all of our hearts for Christ Jesus to reveal Himself to us, and that as often as He does – whether it be in the Supper or in the preaching of His Word, He is doing so with a smile on His lips, with a twinkle in His eyes, and with joy in His heart.
Boundary waters’ fire vs. Wahpeton fire Two stories to close off our message today. A story of two fires. The first is of the one and perhaps last time I chaperoned a youth group into the beautiful but primitive boundary waters. There were no Boy Scouts in my group, nor was I a Boy Scout leader kind of a camp fire builder. Our fires were weak and they were wet and they often went out altogether. Every evening, it misted or it drizzled or it poured down rain. Several evenings, I came to the point of hyperventilating in an effort to blow on those pathetic little fires. At least half the nights, I said to the cold and damp teenagers, hey let’s have a snack and a devotion and call it a night!
The fire in Wahpeton, where my folks lived for many years, was much better than that. It was in the lower level of my parent’s house, and it came from their electric fireplace. All one had to do is flip a switch, sit back in a comfortable chair, cozy up with a good book or deal out the cards, and the fire appeared. Thank God, somebody else had already done the work. Someone had designed that electric fire place, my folks had purchased that fire place, and when my sisters and I were divvying up our folks’ stuff, I said, “I’ll take the fire place.” To this very day, that fire place blesses my family, as often as we turn on the switch.
Dear friends, in every one of your days, no matter what how cool or hot or maybe lukewarm is the fire in your heart, remember these two truths.
• As often as bread is broken in your family circle, that often the Holy Spirit will show up as Teacher, as Counselor, as Comforter.
• As often as bread is broken in this place, that often Jesus Christ will show up as Lover of your soul, as Forgiver of your, as the Giver of the peace only He can give.
Worship Sermons & Letters
Pastor Paul Muther